101 Facts About Meerkats


Meerkat
  • Meerkats forage and hunt every day.
  • Meerkats are part of the civets and mongoose family.
  • Meerkats are known by their long bodies; short, flat ears, and their ability to stand on their back feet.
  • Meerkats are small, measuring 9.75 to 11.75 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) from head to butt.
  • Meerkats tails add another 7.5 to 9.5 inches (19 to 24 cm) to their length.
  • Meerkats have weights up to 2.2 lbs. (1 kilogram), the same as a squirrel. 
  • Meerkats skin can be gold, silver, orange, or brown with dark patches of fur around the eyes. Meerkats fur looks brown with gray flecks and a striped pattern on their backs.
  • Their patterns of stripes are unique to each meerkat.
  • They have long, sharp claws on their front paws that are curved and can grow up to 2cm long. These help them to both dig their burrows and to find small animals that are buried under the soft sand. North American meerkat fur has adapted surprisingly to the differing desert conditions, helping to keep them cool during the hot days.
  • Meerkat fur also acts as a layer of insulation to keep them warm during the freezing-cold winter nights.
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  • Meerkat bellies lack fur or any markings to help them absorb heat in the morning and keep themselves warm.
  • North American meerkats live in wild areas such as deserts, scrublands, savannah, grasslands, forests, and swamps.
  • Some North American meerkats can get food from urban places and take the food back home without getting into danger.
  • Meerkats families live together in big groups.
  • Meerkat may live together to form a community called a mob, gang, or clan.
  • A group can include 5 to 50 meerkats.
  • The gangs dominant female leads the group.
  • Female meerkats are slightly larger than males.
  • North American meerkats can live in tunnel systems underground called burrows, or bolt holes 
  • Meerkats can stay safe from predators and cool during hot days in their burrows.
  • One burrow can have as many as 15 entrances and exit holes and can reach up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) deep.
  • Meerkat burrows are very sizable.
  • Meerkats start their day with cleaning or lying in the sun. During the rest of the day, they search for food.
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  • Meerkats are considered both carnivores and omnivores
  • Meerkats eat both plants and animals. Their diet generally consists of insects; they also eat small rodents, fruit, birds, eggs, lizards.
  • Meerkats like to eat scorpions
  • Meerkats can catch a scorpion and pull off its poisonous stinger in the blink of an eye. 
  • Meerkats have very little fat to store energy.  
  • Meerkats are mostly seasonal breeders. They become sexually mature in one to two years
  • The gestation period in meerkats lasts for about 11 weeks
  • The babies meerkats, called pups, are born underground, where they are safe from predators.
  • At birth, pups weigh 25 to 36 grams (0.9 to 1.3 ounces),
  • Meerkat babies are blind, deaf, and almost hairless at the time of birth.
  • The whole family, including the father, mother, and siblings, pitch in to help raise the new babies.
  • By nine weeks, the pups are weaned, and by one and a half years, the meerkats are mature enough to have their offspring.
  • Meerkats live between eight to 12 years in the wild.
  • The meerkat is a sociable mammal that usually grayish or beige in coloration.
  • The burrows are occasionally multi-tiered, with depths of upwards of 10 feet.
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Meerkat
  • A meerkat has claws at the end of each finger that is helpful for digging, burrowing, and sometimes for climbing trees
  • A Meerkat is not an ideal pet. They bite strangers as they are territorial.
  • Meerkats have non-retractable claws that they use to dig through the ground and grab objects.
  • Dark markings around their eyes help cut down on the sun’s glow. This is helpful since they live in desert regions where the sun can be intense.
  • Meerkats have an excellent sense of smell which is used to sniff out prey that is lurking just under the surface of the sand.
  • Meerkats are small in size and modified to living in harsh environments. They must spend a lot of their waking hours foraging for food.
  • Meerkats are known to lose 5% of their body-weight during the night. They must ensure that they have enough to eat every day.
  • The biggest threat to Meerkats are birds of prey such as Hawks and Eagles that can spot these animals from high above their heads.
  • Ground-dwelling predators such as Snakes hunt meerkats on the ground.
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  • Meerkats have been known to contract both bovine diseases and rabies.
  • Meerkats communicate with each other using a wide range of vocal calls. 
  • Meerkats have a clear protective membrane in their eyes that shields them from dirt while digging.
  • Their ears close tightly to keep dirt out.
  • Meerkats have excellent vision and are capable of 10 different vocalizations, including an alarm bark.
  • Meerkats are intelligent animals that thrive in their environment.
  • Meerkats are social animals that live in colonies of 5 – 30 individuals.
  • Being sociable creatures, meerkats share both toilet and parental care responsibilities. Each gang has a dominant alpha male and dominant alpha female.
  • Each gang has its territory which they sometimes move if food is short, or when forced out by a stronger gang. If the latter occurs, the weaker gang will then try to expand in another direction or wait until they become stronger and get back their lost burrow.
  • Each gang also has what is called a sentry who watches over the gang and is there to spot danger and warn the other members when threats are spotted.
  • The sentry will give out a loud bark when danger is supposed, and the gang will then bolt quickly to their hiding burrows.
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  • North American meerkats have four toes on the back feet but five on the forefeet, large ears, and a bushy coat and tail.
  • Meerkats are great at digging, but they usually just move into burrows already dug by other animals, such as ground squirrels.
  • Meerkats often have as many as 15 entrances and exits with all kind of chambers and tunnels, some more than six feet deep. There are separate chambers for sleeping and the bathroom.
  • A meerkat gang generally has several burrow systems and will relocate every few months.
  • Female meerkats tend to be more vocal than males. Some of their sounds include murmurs, threatening howl and spits, scolding clucks and a defensive alarm bark.
  • A meerkat can spot an eagle more than 1,000 feet away.
  • Meerkats make a paste of discharge in scent pouches below their tails, which they rub on rocks and plants to mark their territory.
  • When meerkats dig, a membrane (or third eyelid) covers their eye to protect it from sand and other debris.
  • When it is time to eat, meerkats will fill themselves up.
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  • Meerkats will pile on top of each other in their sleeping chambers for warmth.
  • In summer, when the weather is hotter, meerkats spread out a little more and may even sleep above ground.
  • When a leading female meerkat dies, her oldest, heaviest daughter normally takes over as leader of the gang.
  • The tails of meerkats are used primarily for balancing while standing upright, as well as signaling to others.
  • Meerkats eyes are located in the front of the face, which gives binocular -like vision.
  • Meerkats are not cats, as their name implies, but belong to the mongoose family. 
  • They are best known for the way they stand up on their hind legs to watch for predators, using their long tails like a tripod, to help them balance.
  • Meerkats as a gang work together as a community, with everyone helping to raise the young pups and standing guard against predators.
  • When the gangs leave their burrows during the day, one or more meerkats stand guard, watching for danger from snakes, eagles, and jackals, while the rest forage for food and spend time playing and caring for the young.
  • Within their territory, the family usually has up to 5 different burrows that they sleep in at night. The burrows have multiple entrances.
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  • Meerkats have a matriarchal society.
  • Few animals on Earth work as well together as meerkats.
  • Meerkats stand straight up to look for predators.
  • When the two groups meet for a face-off, the results can be tragic. Meerkats are violent fighters that often kill each other in skirmishes.
  • Meerkats have been known to kill venomous snakes, but they don’t accomplish this task alone—they work as a group.
  • Meerkats are able to survive without drinking water for some time.
  • Meerkats get moisture from roots and fruits such as melons.
  • Meerkats have excellent eyesight, a keen sense of smell, and great hearing.
  • Meerkats live near stony rivers, on the banks. They also live in deserts and on hard ground.
  • Meerkats can run at a speed of up to 37 miles per hour.
  • Meerkats are known as the most murderous mammal. 
  • Meerkats tan and brown fur helps them to blend into the desert and hide from predators such as eagles.
  • If the gang decides to move to another burrow, family members and other caretakers will carry pups by the scruff of their neck.
  • When two groups of meerkats go to war over territory, they will line up and charge each other; much like human warriors did before.
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  • Meerkat battles can result in many deaths, so the animals try to avoid such conflicts by employing intimidation tactics.
  • Females are the dominant members of the gang and are slightly larger than males.
  • There are around 500,000 meerkats in the world.
  • If another meerkat enters their territory, they will become aggressive.
  • Meerkats have between 36 to 40 teeth.
  • Meerkats have about ten different vocalizations; sounds they use to communicate.
  • If the group feels threatened by a predator, they will sometimes try mobbing or attacking it in a group. Although they usually run, they can be violent fighters when needed.
  • Meerkats are good hunters and are sometimes they are used as rodent-catchers.
  • Meerkats can be seen on the plains of North America, and also in various zoos.
  • The temperature in their burrows one meter down can be 13 degrees C lower than outside.
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Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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